On cold December 5th, 2018, I told how to travel in the Dolomites in the live broadcast of Tutu.ru*. Below is a short transcript with my answers on 20 questions from the its host — a great chance to know about the Dolomites and to meet me, as a local outdoor journalist, in the same time. By the way, 170k people already watched it.
Hiking in the Dolomites it’s like going up the 17th floor without an elevator. But it’s like the 117th floor!
— Where are the Dolomites located?
— In the north of Italy between Venice, Treviso and Padua from the south, Bolzano and Innsbruck (Austria) from the north, Udine from the east, Verona, Bergamo and Milan from the west. It is easy to find!
— I know, that you lived in this region for more than a year now. How did that happen?
— I live here for more than 1,5 years now. I came to the Dolomites for the first time in March 2013 as a participant of the ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteer program. At that time it has the name EVS (European Volunteering Service). I and five other volunteers from Europe lived in Dolomites for 8 months in a row. I liked the project, this place and the local people very much.
— Overall, how many trips did you have to this region since this time?
— Six times. Since 2013 I come here every year for the periods from 1 to 2-3 months. In the same village. I liked to study one place on 1000 sides, and not 1000 places on one side. It’s the same with Karelia — my native home region.
— What groups of travelers you’re gonna tell today about the Dolomites?
— Skiers and snowboarders, because now it is winter, but also for hikers and cyclists, climber and alpinists. For everyone who likes outdoors! The Dolomites are about it! But also about eco-tourism.
— How to get to the Dolomites? How much does it cost? Is there any other way to get to the Dolomites than by plane?
— From Europe, it’s very cheap, like 50–100 euros for a round trip from neighboring countries: Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland. You need to fly to Venice, Treviso, Verona, Milan, or Innsbruck. From there on trains and buses, you can go to our region of Feltrino and Primiero in just 3-4 hours. You can also get here by bus. It’s the same price or even less expensive.
— What to do in the Dolomites in winter?
— All kinds of skiing and snowboarding. Plus all the activities in the snow like snowshoeing, for example.
And, in Pale di San Martino, you can even try to ride a Russian “Troika” (horse sled)!
— And how to get to ski resorts in the wintertime?
— Now from all Italian airports in the north, there are direct bus shuttles to ski resorts. To get to the largest and most popular ski resort in our region — the village of San Martino di Castrozza — it costs around 35 euros.
— How to choose accommodation?
— The closer you get to the ski lifts, the more expensive it is — up to 200 euros per night at the 4 stars hotel. It costs 50 euros to stay in the next village in 30—40 minutes bus ride.
— What about food?
— You can eat in the hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars, or, of course, to buy food in supermarkets. In general food products is more expensive than in Eastern Europe or Russia, but cheaper than in France and Germany.
— And what kind of local food I can try?
— Polenta is the main food in the Italian north. And in the Dolomites — different kinds of meat, potatoes, apple pies.
— Are there any sights besides ski slopes? Maybe something is interesting in local towns?
— Yes, it is. In every Italian village, there is a local tourist center called Pro Loco. From there you can have all information about the place. Or take a quick look on the Internet on its websites. For example, Pro Loco Lamon, Pro Loco Sovramonte, Pro Loco Fonzaso.
— How’s it going with the Dolomites with safety?
— For sire, it’s safe to travel to the Dolomites, but like everywhere it is better to keep an eye on personal belongings.
— Winter is winter, but I know you prefer summertime and hiking, and cycling. Tell me, what kind of hiking is in the Dolomites?
— There are a lot of trails to hike and rods to ride! Only around my village Lamon, there are 15 trails from a few km to 10–15 km. In Vette Feltrino and Pale di San Martino, you can walk for 2–5 days without going to the villages. There are 8 long trails in the Dolomites called Alta via (High Way) for walks from 5–7 to 14 days.
There are signs and maps everywhere in the Dolomites — you won’t get lost. And if to speak about cycling, there are endless fantastic roads up to 2000 m.
— And what are the routes? Up and down the mountain? What kind of views open up?
— Yes, there are almost no direct (plain) roads in the Dolomites. Always up and down the mountains! It’s like going up the 17th floor without an elevator. But it’s like the 117th floor! This is the main difference between Dolomites and the rest of Italy.
— What kind of physical training should a traveler have?
— You don’t have to be athletic if you can walk fast and long by nature. Otherwise, it is better to train in advance.
— How many kilos and liters of backpacks should I take?
— 5–8 kilos max. 30-40 liters max for multi-day hiking from hut to hut.
— For those of our viewers who go hiking, but only in Russia, can you tell the difference of hiking in Europe, in general?
— The main one: it’s not necessary to carry a tent-like I said, at night you can stay in the mountain huts (refugio). There is a warm bed, kitchen, shower. You can also live in free alpine shelters (bivaco). There’s full autonomy: a bedroom and food with you, and no shower.
— How to cook during the hike, if you stay in bivaco?
— Portable gas burner. Try it!
— How’s it going with the Internet in the Dolomites? Can you take spectacular snapshots on the route and immediately put them in the Instagram?
— There’s hardly any Internet in the mountains, if you go higher than 1000—1500 m. Use this time to take a break from your smartphone.
— Thank you! They ask us in the chat room: is there any way to join you and go hiking together? You organize them periodically, don’t you?
— Yes, I do. In the summer season, from June to October, you can just ask me for a hike from one to 2–3 days with or without staying at refugio. I also have some 5—6 days hiking tours with groups during the summer. You can join them, too.
Thanks to Timur Yusupov, the Editor-in-chief of Tutu.ru blog “Storylines” for his questions and general vision of the broadcast. (For him, it was for the first time to be a host. And he did it!)
* Tutu.ru Live is live broadcast in Vkontakte (Russian version of a Facebook) of Tutu.ru, the one of the most popular online travel services in Russia, which sells train and airplane tickets and so on, and also works very well with the travel community.
Cover photo: hiking in my home village in the Dolomites in May 2019 © Ivan Kuznetsov.